Wednesday, March 15, 2000

Greetings from J-List March 15, 2000

Hello from Japan, where even the feminine products have printed Hello Kitty on them.

One thing I'm often impressed with since coming to Japan is the "steadiness" I often see here. When I married my wife and moved to Isesaki, I noticed a man in a nearby field, spending his Sunday afternoon with his RC helicopter (one of the expensive ones), flying it around the field and landing it. Well, it's been six years since that day, and that man is still in that field every Sunday afternoon, playing with his RC helicopter. Over the past six years I've gone through many changes and evolutions, but I have to respect that man for his steadfast adherence to his hobby.

Likewise, this steadiness can be seen in Japanese TV, with anime staples that have been on the air for decades and thousands and thousands of episodes -- mainly Doraemon (the "robot of cat type" who comes from the future to be with his friend, Nobita-kun) and Sazae-san (which follows the happening of the Isono family every week, brought to you by the Toshiba Corporation). The longest running movie series in history is also from Japan -- "Otoko wa Turaiyo" ("It's Tough Being a Man") followed the traveling salesman Tora-san around Japan year after year, for a total of 48 installments (it's in the Guiness Book).

But as with all observations about Japan, there are the exceptions. In America, consumers expect trusted brands, and most of the products you see -- from Milky Way and M&Ms to Coca Cola and Rice Krispies -- have been around for dozens of years. In Japan, however, companies are under pressure to come up with new products -- Morinaga's Choco Flake may have been "the delicious chocolate snack enjoyed by consumers since 1963" but when retailers want something new to attract consumers, it "out with the old, in with the new."
Tonight's update is a nice one, with lots of nice new additions, including:

  • An excellent selection of key holder/phone straps, including a keychain of "Street Licca" (the kogal version of Licca-chan), Godzilla 2000 and the Dancing Baby from Ally McBiel (on the anime & toys page)
  • Haru, a wonderful hardcover photobook of the lovely and delicious Yoshikawa Minami, the "second Aonuma Chiasa"
  • Great new magazines, including new issues of Panstopia and two different issues of D Cup Japan
  • Excellent new idol videos, including Final Beauty videos of Yamada Mariya and Yoshida Satomi, and a new Race Queen video offering
  • For fans of the excellent videos from Soft on Demand, we've got new "costume play sex" that have been very well received -- as with all SOD videos, they really push the envelope and show lots of detail

J-List customers tell us that word of mouth is the #1 one way they hear of us. If you know someone who's interested in Japan, please tell them about J-List. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 14, 2000

Greetings from J-List March 14, 2000

Greetings from Japan, the country with the highest per-capita number of vending machines in the world.

Well, March 14 and White Day are upon us. White Day is the counterpoint to Valentine's Day here in Japan, when men give return presents (usually white chocolate) to women who gave them chocolate on Valentine's Day. It's not a day that many take seriously of course (except convenience stores, who deck their shelves out with White Day decorations), but Japan is a country that runs on giri -- obligation -- and if you have an obligation to a coworker or acquaintance who gave you something on Valentine's Day, it's just good manners to get them something in return.

While on one of my late-night sessions of videotaped American television, I happened across the famed Chinpokomon episode of South Park, which pokes more than a little fun at the worldwide Pokemon craze. Watching the layers of ridiculous black jokes while the Asahi Super Dry and dried, shredded squid began to take effect made me reflect on the last decade and how much Japan has been a part of it. It was almost an out of body experience -- seeing the "anime" Colonel Sanders commercials for the first time brought on a similar eerie feeling. Incidentally, chinpoko is a kid's word for "penis" in case you wanted to know.

Tonight's update features many great new items, including:
  • Several new items from the excellent Gremlins toy series by JUN Planning, including the deluxe Gizmo and Mohawk (on the anime & toys page)
  • Also on the toy & anime page, a highly detailed figure of Edward Scissorhands from the cult movie classic
  • A half dozen great new adult wide manga, on the hentai manga page
  • For the motorcycle lover in you, we've added the excellent Outrider, the quintessential magazine for motorcyclists who love touring, as a revolving subscription item
  • New magazines, including more copies of the popular Okay!! and Ike Ike Magazine
  • Fresh stock of our great Japanese photobooks, including more copies of the popular Horiuchi Nana's "Tickle"
  • JAST USA is looking for translators for fun and interesting Japanese to English translations projects. If you can translate Japanese and are interested in working with us, please email me for more information.